Since the market bottom on March 23, PayPal shares are up 123%, while Square is up 258%, far exceeding the broader S&P 500 index’s nearly 41% gain in the same timeframe.
Both stocks ticked higher this week after positive ratings from Piper Sandler analyst Christopher Donat.
Donat initiated coverage of PayPal on Tuesday with an Overweight rating and a price target of $210, calling the stock “one of the best positioned companies to take advantage of changes in consumer purchasing behavior due to the pandemic.”
“We would encourage investors to build or add to positions in PayPal, especially in any future pandemic-related market pullbacks,” Donat said, adding that the fast account growth PayPal has been seeing could add 10% or more to the its earnings per share. “We expect PayPal to be one of the better revenue growth stories in the payments sector in coming quarters.”
As for Square, Donat said it’s “one of the best growth stories in the payments space, as demonstrated by annual gross profit growth that has exceeded 40% for the past five years.”
Donat added that Square boasts a solid user base that generates recurring revenue for the company.
However, the Piper Sandler analyst is worried that Square’s exposure to small businesses has “left it overly exposed to at-risk companies.” Small businesses like shops, salons, and restaurants have been hit hard amid the pandemic, which “has negative implications for not just payment volumes but also credit costs” for Square.
Strategic Wealth Partners’ Mark Tepper likes PayPal over Square.
“They’re both expensive right now, but I would definitely prefer PayPal over Square,” Tepper said. “I’d be waiting to pounce if and when there’s a pullback in PayPal.”
Tepper added that PayPal is a “pure play on [the] e-commerce boom” while Square could be hurt by its exposure to “mom-and-pop shops.”
“Square does have an advantage with their cash app over PayPal’s Venmo, but I more or less would see that as a positive catalyst for PayPal as they upgrade that system,” Tepper added. “So we’re still long-term bullish on PayPal, but I think it would have to drop below that $140 level for us to actually pull the trigger.”